I knew exactly zero, yes, ZERO, lullabies to sing to the boys when they were babies. The very first day that I held J in that orphanage music room I walked him around singing lyrics that I thought might just luckily and accurately be in the Hush Little Baby Song.
Well he loved that song so much that I could ease him in to snooze land with just a few short notes. Well why fix what ain’t broke? So I carried the tradition of singing my improvised version to each boy since.
My lyrics go a little something like this…
Hush, little baby, don’t say word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring. And if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass. And if that looking glass goes broke, Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat. And if that billy goat don’t bray, Mama’s gonna love you anyway.
Today I was tucking S in and he asked if he could sing me the Hush Baby song and he began singing it with different lyrics. The real lyrics.
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird won’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke, Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat,
And if that billy goat doesn’t pull, Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over, Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark, Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down, you’ll still be the sweetest baby in town.
After he sang me the song I hung my head in an uh-oh moment. I had be found out. I was no longer the all-knowing mama I am often imagined to be.
M: Oh, so that’s how the song goes. Did they teach you that in music class?
S: Yes. But I like the way that you sing it better.
M: You do?
S: Yes. They just sing it differently in Oregon.
M: Well, actually, S, it’s me who sings it differently. I never really knew the words and I kinda made them up as I went along.
S: What! You did?!? I just thought it was a weird Oregon way.
M: Nope. Just a weird my way. Would you teach me all the words?
S: Maybe. I still like our way.
I realize I only chose this song because I knew the tune. Reading the lyrics tonight, I think I might just really dislike this song. Now that the boys have nearly outgrown me singing them to sleep I feel it’s about time I learn a real song. Something with great lyrics like Imagine by John Lennon or The Riddle by Five for Fighting or Life Happens by Brandon and Leah or most things by Jason Mraz but particularly 93 Million Miles or I Won’t Give Up.
Goodnight to one and all no matter what song or what version you’re singing just as long as you’re singing.